Taxpayers Deserve the Best from Colleges and Universities

The future of our economy and the health of our civic institutions depend on the strength of our colleges and universities. Public leaders cannot assume that America's colleges and universities properly serve taxpayers and students in the absence of careful oversight. Governors can provide leadership to trustees and a vision for public higher education. Lawmakers can establish accountability through sound, evidence-based policies. ACTA's thoughtful analysis and understanding of best practices can help elected officials and other higher education leaders be effective in their crucial roles.

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As tuition skyrockets and student debt continues to rise, lawmakers have an urgent duty to safeguard the public’s investment in higher education. ACTA provides government leaders with independent, objective metrics to help them ensure that taxpayer dollars support students, not administrative bloat.

Each year, ACTA analyzes data from nearly 500 public four-year colleges and universities—including every public institution that offers a traditional baccalaureate degree—on key measures of cost-effectiveness.

Average Tuition and Required Fees at Four-Year Public Institutions
Average Tuition and Required Fees at Four-Year Public Institutions
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Leading the Charge: Governors, Higher Education, and Accountability

In at least two-thirds of the states, the governor is primarily responsible for appointing trustees of public colleges and universities. One of the most important things a governor can do is ensure that appointees are adequately prepared to take up the fiduciary responsibility of higher education board service. This guide outlines the many ways that ACTA can help with this task.
Policymakers Representing the Public Interest

Measure the Impact of Runaway Spending

Policymakers must make the efficient use of public resources a top priority so that students across the country have access to a quality college education at an affordable price. Students and taxpayers deserve to know whether the colleges and universities they finance provide an adequate return on investment.

In The Cost Of Excess, ACTA examined nine years of data from over 1,500 private and public four-year institutions across the country. We found that increases in administrative spending—continuing even through challenging economic times—drove tuition hikes while doing little to improve graduation rates. The report offers guidance to help lawmakers ensure that public funds benefit students first.

Promote Innovation by Reforming Quality Assurance

The college accreditation system is broken. Originally intended to ensure that federal funds flowed to quality educational programs, its antiquated processes discourage innovation while failing to protect students. A broad, bipartisan consensus agrees that legislative action is overdue. In Accreditation on the Edge, ACTA outlines how Congress can reform quality assurance for the 21st century.


Universities try 3-year degrees to save students time, money

With college costs rising and some students and families questioning the return on investment of a four-year degree, a few pioneering state universities are exploring programs that would grant...

May 30, 2024 by Elaine S. Povich
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Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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